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June 18th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should the U.S. do more to help the Iranian people?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to showing support for thousands of Iranian protesters - critics say President Obama is not doing enough. Republican Congressman Mike Pence has introduced a resolution that would "speak a word of support for the people of Iran."

He says he doesn't think the U.S. should endorse the opposition candidate; but rather show support for protesters who are "risking their lives for free and fair elections."

Also, The New York Times reports that while some senior administration officials like Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton support the president's approach, they too would like to strike a stronger tone of support for the protesters.

But other officials believe a more cautious approach is the way to go... they say harsh criticism of Iran's government or more support for the protesters could end up backfiring - by making it seem like the U.S. is behind these efforts.

Some point out that the president can't only focus on the protesters since there are many issues to worry about when it comes to Iran - including the nuclear one.

Despite President Obama's more muted response to events, the Iranian government is still accusing U.S. officials of meddling. The State Department insists that Washington is withholding judgment about the election and not interfering with Iran's internal affairs.

Here’s my question to you: Should the United States be doing more to help the Iranian people?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran
June 17th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Will Facebook and Twitter help bring down Iran's government?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Whether or not there's another political revolution in Iran - there's no doubt the country has already witnessed a technological revolution. Iranian officials have been trying to clamp down on the flow of information in all the ways these regimes do - restricting the coverage of western journalists, kicking others out of the country, shutting down web sites.

Iran's officials are trying to restrict the flow of information... but it's not working because of media tools like Facebook and Twitter.

But it's not working this time - and one of the big reasons is social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. Many of the young demonstrators - 70-percent of Iranians are under 30 - have used these technologies as a tool to coordinate their protests over the election's outcome. They're also posting graphic pictures and videos of the crackdown by officials.

The U.S. State Department points to Twitter as one of the ways Iranians can "get the word out," and officials in this country are even following these social networks. In fact, the government contacted Twitter at one point asking them to delay a planned update that would shut the system down temporarily.

Thomas Friedman writes in The New York Times about the diffusion of technology as one of the major factors changing the Middle East. He points to all this stuff - the Internet, blogs, YouTube, cell phone text messaging - as a way for people "to communicate horizontally, to mobilize politically and to criticize their leaders acerbically, outside of state control."

Here’s my question to you: Will technology like Facebook and Twitter eventually help bring down the establishment in Iran?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran
June 16th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

How should U.S. respond to Iran’s election controversy?

ALT TEXT

A supporter of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi protests in Tehran, Iran. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is walking a fine line when it comes to the controversy over Iran's election.

After several days of a cautious response from the White House - the president came out yesterday saying he was deeply troubled by the violence he was seeing on TV and that free speech and the democratic process need to be respected. Nonetheless, he said he wants to respect Iran's sovereignty and that it's up to the Iranian people to decide who their leaders are. Mr. Obama said he's not trying to dictate Iran's internal politics.

Critics are calling on the president to be stronger in his support of the Iranian protesters. House Republican whip Eric Cantor says the administration's "silence in the face of Iran's brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East." Senator John McCain has called the election corrupt and says President Obama should speak out that this is a fraud election.

Also, other foreign leaders have been more forceful in their condemnation, but experts acknowledge that President Obama is in a no-win situation... strong criticism could backfire, while a muted response gives an impression of weakness.

Also, while the president's message of change matches with that of the Iranian protesters - a young and tech-friendly bunch, much like his own campaign... the president doesn't want the U.S. to become the story in Iranian politics.

Adding to the pressure on Washington was the move by Iran today to severely restrict journalists' access to the protest rallies. That has raised speculation the government plans a violent crackdown... on the order of what happened in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago.

Here’s my question to you: How should Washington proceed when it comes to Iran's election controversy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • Washington
June 15th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Were Iran's elections honest?

ALT TEXT

Iranian supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi take part in a rally in Tehran. (PHOTO CREDIT: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A lot of people aren't buying the outcome of Iran's elections, which had President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning with more than 62 percent of the vote.

Vice President Joe Biden says there's some "real doubt" about the results.

Experts point to many reasons why the elections could have been rigged: There is no independent monitoring, many voters are illiterate and officials help them fill in their paper ballots. There are also no booths, so all of the voting is done in public.

According to the official results - Ahmadinejad won in all regions of the country and among all classes and ages - which is highly unlikely. For example, Ahmadinejad won in cities where he is unpopular; and the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Moussavi, lost among his own ethnic group. Also, there were 40 million votes cast and just two hours after the polls closed, Ahmadinejad's victory was announced. In Iran there are no machines. All the votes have to be hand counted.

Moussavi's supporters have taken to the streets to protest the results - often clashing with police. Iranian media have mostly ignored the protests and international journalists were prevented from covering them. Some reporters have been arrested and others beaten by police.

All this was apparently enough for Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei to allow an investigation into allegations of ballot fraud. A group of top clerics and judges is expected to issue its findings within 10 days.

Here's my question to you: Do you believe Iran's elections were honest?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran
June 11th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Can Obama's Cairo speech help defeat Ahmadinejad?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some are calling it the "Cairo effect"... they're referring to indications that President Obama's speech last week has already resonated with the Muslim world. In it, the president made clear that countries that don't back extremists are more likely to win the favor of the West - and avoid isolation.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is running for a second term against three challengers in a June 12 election.

The first test came last weekend during Lebanon's elections, where an American-backed coalition defeated the Hezbollah-backed group. Most analysts had predicted that the Hezbollah-led coalition would win...

But The New York Times reports that while there are many domestic reasons why the pro-west coalition won, many also point to Mr. Obama's campaign of outreach to the Muslim world: "For the first time in a long time, being aligned with the United States did not lead to defeat in the Middle East."

Analysts highlight steps the new administration has already taken to ease tensions with Muslims. For example, they are proposing talks with Iran and Syria - rather than confrontation - which makes it harder for Hezbollah and other extremists to demonize the U.S.

The next test comes on Friday, when Iran's hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is up for re-election against a moderate challenger. Although Ahmadinejad is unpopular at home for many reasons, including the economy, some believe that President Obama's speech could help lead to his defeat.

The last time moderates had a real chance of winning in Iran was in 2002, right after former President Bush included Iran in the so-called axis of evil - and we all know how that turned out.

Here’s my question to you: Can Pres. Obama's speech to the Muslim world help defeat Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in tomorrow's election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • President Barack Obama
April 21st, 2009
05:34 PM ET

Should Israel attack Iran's nuclear sites?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Iran is warning Israel not to attack its nuclear facilities - with one top official saying if Israel attacks, "Iran will respond in a way that they will not be able to sleep easy anymore." This warning comes a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raised tensions between the two countries, calling Israel the "most cruel and repressive racist regime" at a UN conference in Geneva.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pictured at the UN review conference on racism in Geneva. EU delegates walked out of the conference after Ahmadinejad launched a verbal onslaught against 'cruel' Israel.

Israel, which is now being led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline government, says Iran is developing nuclear weapons that could threaten its very existence. Last week Israeli President Shimon Peres dismissed the idea that Israel is planning any kind of attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

But The London Times reports the Israeli military is getting ready to do just that. They say Israeli forces have acquired special aircraft that would be required for the strikes, and are practicing missions to simulate an attack. The newspaper also reports there will be two nationwide drills to help the public prepare for any potential retaliation.

One senior defense official tells the Times that Israel wants to know they could strike Iran within a matter of days or "even hours" if given the green light. It's believed Israel would need to hit more than a dozen targets, including moving convoys.

The same official adds that it's unlikely Israel would bomb Iran's facilities without getting at least tacit approval from the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently told CNN that Israel would be "ill-advised" to attack Iran.

Here’s my question to you: Israel is reportedly getting ready to attack Iran's nuclear sites. Should they?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • Israel
March 9th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

If Iran close to getting nuclear weapon, what should Israel do?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's a growing sense that Iran is getting closer and closer to making a nuclear weapon - and someone may soon have to stop them.

An Iranian flag flutters next to a ground-to-ground Sajil missile. Iran has boasted in the past of developing new weapons systems only to be met with skepticism from Western defense analysts.

Israel is now saying that Tehran has mastered the nuclear technology to make a nuclear bomb, with Israel's military intelligence chief saying "Iran has crossed the technological threshold," adding that the country continues to amass low enriched uranium. He says the Islamic republic is using expected talks with the U.S. and the West to buy time to get enough uranium to build a bomb.

The spy chief also says that even though Iran has mastered the technology, it still hasn't made a nuclear bomb and is probably still a couple years away from doing so. This would suggest they could be stopped before getting their hands on a nuclear weapon.

And Israel just might be the ones to stop them. A recent report by U.S. experts suggest Israel is seriously considering taking unilateral action to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The report says Israel's time frame for action is getting shorter due to Iranian advances and the possibility that they will upgrade their air defenses to give their nuclear program a further reach. The report argues international sanctions as well as financial pressure be increased.

Meanwhile Iran has just announced that it successfully tested a new air-to-surface missile. Nonetheless, they continue to deny they're seeking nuclear weapons.

Here’s my question to you: If Iran is now close to obtaining a nuclear weapon, what should Israel do?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • Israel
December 5th, 2008
04:50 PM ET

Should Israel attack Iran's nuclear facilities without U.S.?

Should Israel attack Iran's nuclear facilities without coordination with the US?

Should Israel attack Iran's nuclear facilities without coordination with the US?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Israel is apparently considering a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities without our help.

The Jerusalem Post reports Israel is drawing up options to attack Iran WITHOUT coordination with the U.S.

Coordination would be helpful because the U.S. controls Iraqi airspace and the U.S. Air Force could give the codes to the Israeli Air Force.

A top official with the Israeli Defense Ministry told the newspaper that while it's better to coordinate an attack, they are considering options that do not include our help.

Various news reports have said President Bush has refused to give Israel the green light.

But that won't necessarily stop an attack.

Officials in Teheran are reportedly skeptical that Israel will strike.

There's apparently still some time left to decide on making a move...Israeli officials say while Iran is making progress, they don't expect them to have enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb until the end of next year.

Here’s my question to you: Should Israel attack Iran's nuclear facilities without coordination with the United States?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • Israel
November 20th, 2008
04:39 PM ET

How should Obama deal with Iran?

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President-elect Barack Obama is inheriting a lot of problems from the Bush Administration including an economic crisis, two wars, and a whole list of international challenges, the most urgent of which is Iran.

According to a new International Atomic Energy Agency report, Iran is continuing to increase its stockpile of uranium and now has enough nuclear fuel to make a single atom bomb.

Watch: Cafferty: Obama deal with Iran?

Iran insists it only wants nuclear energy to fuel power plants, but the United Nations Security Council isn't so sure. It has passed three sanctions resolutions demanding Iran suspend its nuclear program. The Tehran government has ignored them all.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the United Nations in September, "As far as we are concerned, the nuclear issue is resolved."

The Bush Administration joined European-led negotiations late in the game and actually sent some representatives to Tehran to meet with the Iranians, but to no avail.

Two months from today, it will be Barack Obama's turn. He has indicated a willingness to negotiate with Tehran, but this IAEA report could complicate matters considerably.

Here’s my question to you: How should Barack Obama deal with Iran when he takes office?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Iran
July 11th, 2008
05:28 PM ET

What should be done about Iran?

ALT TEXT
Iran's Shahab-3 missile being launched from an undisclosed location on Wednesday.(PHOTO CREDIT: AP PHOTO)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Iran is holding a fistful of aces.

Consider this: The Islamic Republic is the second-largest oil producing country in OPEC – with an output of 4 million barrels a day. And the head of OPEC warns that any military conflict involving Iran could result in an "unlimited" increase in oil prices. You think today's record trading high of more than $147 a barrel was bad news? He says the other members of OPEC wouldn't be able to make up for the lost production, and prices could head through the roof. Some experts are predicting prices of $250 per barrel or higher.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to go along with its nuclear program. In an attempt to showcase some of its military might, the Iranians test-fired a long-range missile Wednesday and several shorter-range missiles Wednesday and Thursday. A top Iranian military official has threatened to close down the straits of Hormuz if Iran is attacked; more than 17 million barrels of oil flow through the strait every day.

In light of Iran's missile tests, the U.S. and Israel are flexing their muscles, too. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. will "defend our interests and defend our allies." And Israel, whom Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to destroy, is also chiming in. Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he favors sanctions and diplomatic pressure, but that Israel has proved in the past that it's not afraid to act if its security is at risk.

Here’s my question to you: What should be done about Iran, considering how much influence it has over the world’s oil supply?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • Oil Prices
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